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SSDI: After You Are Approved for Social Security Disability Insurance

Summary

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After you have qualified to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, there are a whole series of rules you need to understand. Once you understand the rules, you will know what to expect and continuing actions you should take to help assure that you continue to receive a benefit.  

Benefits 

  • The amount of the income depends on your earnings record.
  • When payment is made varies according to:
    • Your birth date
    • Whether you are also receiving SSI or
    • Whether you are receiving benefits as a spouse or child.
  • Payment is made by check mailed to the address noted in your file unless you select the recommended alternative of deposit directly into your bank account (known as "Direct Deposit."). If you don't have a bank account, there is a special account banks will set up for your SSDI deposit.
  • Future SSDI benefits cannot be assigned (automatically paid to someone else.) 
  • Benefits cannot be garnished (a legal term for being taken by your creditors), except in limited circumstances. As a result, your SSDI benefit is generally protected from creditors.  
  • Your SSDI income may be taxable if you have additional income
  • If you get married or divorced, it could affect your benefits.  
  • If you receive an "Overpayment" (more money than you are entitled to), don't just keep the money. If you don't have the money to return, a waiver or extended payment is possible.

Continuing Disability Review

  • As long as you continue to receive SSDI benefits, Social Security will make periodic checks to determine whether there has been medical improvement in your condition. Each of these checks is called a "Continuing Disability Review" (CDR.)  The longer you receive SSDI benefits, the more likely you will be subjected to a continuing disability review.
  • You will be informed of the earliest date for the first review in the letter confirming your disability award. Your condition may then be reviewed periodically. There may be an earlier review if you report earnings from work in 2015 of $1,000 a month or more.
  • Now is the time to start preparing for a continuing disability review.
    • Part of the preparation is to continue to receive medical treatment and to follow the protocol. For instance, take prescribed drugs as prescribed.
    • Another part is to continue to document your symptoms, and the effect they have on your daily living.
    • Experts suggest you should be seen by your medical provider at least once every two months.
  • If Social Security Decides You Are Still Disabled: You will receive a letter from Social Security which informs you that it finds that your disability continues. While that's great news, don't take it to mean your job is done. Continue to prepare for the next time Social Security reviews your case. 
  • If Social Security decides that you are no longer disabled, you can appeal. 

Return To Work

  • Social Security encourages a return to work by providing a trial work period and other benefits. 
    • There are areas to consider before going back to work, and while working. If you are thinking about returning to work, or if you have already returned to work, read Return To Work, An Overview.
    • You may be requested to contact the Vocational Rehabilitation agency in your state. If you are asked to see Vocational Rehabilitation, go. While Social Security no longer forces people to go to Vocational Rehabilitation, you risk having your benefits cut off.
    • If you do return to work, it is advisable to keep track of your work activity. 

If Social Security tries to cut off your benefits

Appeal immediately. If you appeal within 10 days after receiving notice that your benefit is being terminated, you can ask for your payments to continue while the decision is being reviewed on appeal. You may have to repay the money if you lose on appeal. Should this happen, you can request a waiver of repayment or, if that fails, a pay-out so you can repay the money over time.there are steps you can take to prevent it.

Representative Payee

There are rules in place to protect you in case you become unable to handle your benefit payments. If you see it could be coming, you can request appointment of a person to handle the funds for you. The person is called a "Representative Payee." 

Note: If a court finds a person who receives SSDI benefits (a "beneficiary") to be legally incompetent, or a legal guardian has been appointed, a certified copy of the court order must be submitted to Social Security.

Your Privacy

As a Federal agency, Social Security is required by the Privacy Act of 1974 to protect the information it receives about you. State agencies which determine medical eligibility for Social Security Disability (DDS) are also required to keep your privacy.

You do not waive your right to privacy when you sign documents giving Social Security and DDS the right to contact your medical providers.

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